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Happy Easter - things you may not have considered....besides the chocolate!

As we approach Easter the main thing you will see is the list of foods a dog should not eat, but there are other things to consider too, especially during holiday periods, not just Easter.

I did plan on getting some pics of my own for this blog, but unfortunately life gets in the way.  My wonderful Barking course Graduates have kindly lent me their pics for this blog, and they didn't disappoint!.  These pictures remain their property and should not be copied without their permission!


Its Easter….so obviously…..

I’ll start with the obvious.  At Easter we have the delights of hot cross buns, decadent chocolates and depending on your family tradition potentially cooked bones. We also need to consider spring flowers and bulbs. The list isn’t exhaustive and you should always speak to your vet for medical advice.

Chocolate – in honesty it doesn’t need to be Easter for me to stuff my face, but any excuse huh!  Chocolate contains theobromine which is poisonous to dogs.  The amount in chocolate varies from type to type.  Dark chocolate is the most toxic.  Whilst there are tools online which tell you how to measure how much is too much, remember every dog is unique and has different tolerances.  Where one dog may cope with a small amount another cannot.  It is always important to check this with your vet.  Signs of theobromine poisoning occur between 4-24 hours and include vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, hyperactivity and seizures.  Remember a lot of chocolates include other toxic foods such as raisins and certain types of nuts – so a double or triple whammy.  Keep the package and speak to your vets if you think your dogs had some.


Hot cross buns – nothin better than with a bit of butter and cheese.  But, they contain raisins, currants and sultanas which cause kidney failure in dogs. Some are more affected than others and there is no “safe” dose for these things as some are just more sensitive than others.  Please consult your vet if your dog consumes grapes, raisins, currants or similar.

Nutmeg, often on hotcross buns and many puddings, contains myristicin which can upset their stomach in small doses and cause more severe symptoms in larger doses, again, every dog has different sensitivities, so please just avoid!

Xylitol – found in those sugar free cakes, or “no added sugar” items, such as gum, drinks, sweetener in your tea or coffee, and so on.  Most people are aware of this one and often check the peanut butter labels for it.  Dogs are very sensitive to this chemical.  Early symptoms include lethargy, vomiting and a loss of co-ordination and could progress to seizures and death. 

Spring plants and flowers – those beautiful flowers can be deadly!  With the spring grass coming through the dogs will likely be digging to get to the roots, with that they may dig up a few bulbs.  Daffodil, Narcissci, lily and crocus bulbs are highly toxic.  Symptoms can include vomiting, bad tummy’s, heart and kidney problems. 


Fat and bones.  Easter is usually where ham and lamb will be served up, and its lovely that you want to plate up some for the dogs.  However foods high in fat can trigger pancreatitis, vomiting, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea.  Instead, why not plate up their normal food in a different way and warm it up a bit?  Cooked bones splinter, and can have a devastating impact (literally).  Whilst its lovely to let them nibble the bone, don’t let them eat it.  I’d not take the risk and instead would boil it up for the goodness inside and make a lovely broth.

The other things people often don’t consider are:

The polystyrene easter eggs for easter egg hunts – dogs will likely love to chew them.  The pieces are hard to digest and too many can cause a blockage which could result in costly surgery or worse! Be careful if you set them up, make sure you count what you hide so you know they’ve all been collected, and if your dog is likely to grab one, maybe keep them indoors or on a lead.  Pay attention to egg hunts in public areas too, chances are they’ll be using these eggs now and often some are missed.

Packaging and plastic toys – the kids are off and its easter.  All the foils and plastic packaging, the fun toys that come with the eggs are all very tempting.  If these things get stuck it can be a huge problem. Get dog friendly toys to keep them busy.


What else?

Well, the same warnings for any holidays.  The dogs aren’t used to the kids being home all day and it can be a lot for them.  Their peaceful quiet time ruined by the banging doors and stomping footsteps.  The changes to your routine.  The wonderful trips out together.  Can lead to tired dogs.  Make sure your dogs have somewhere to retreat to and ensure your children understand how to read body language.  Also remind them of the age old rules

               Let sleeping dogs lie

               Never touch a dog with a bone!

If the kids have their friends coming over, or you have family visiting, set up an area for your dogs to be safely away from the excitement.  If they like people, wonderful, but please don’t let them ‘greet’ people at the front door.  This area is a “hot spot” but more than anything you don’t want them shooting past all those feet out of the house.  They may be exceptionally well trained, however they are not robots.


Resource guarding – where Easter is full of so many tempting items, you may see some elements of guarding occur.  Management is the best approach to reduce occurances, however to resolve and address the dogs need to do this you really do need to work on this with a professional long term.  Guarding can easily escalate and it can be a dangerous issue. It is a common reason dogs may bite and the cause is commonly misunderstood by owners. As they are small, their warnings are not acknowledged as they might be with a larger breed, and this will typically lead to an escalation in behaviours. Getting in their early means you can work on really easy and practical approaches to resolve things rather than cautiously working around a dog that has learnt to use its teeth!

Rather than chasing your dog when they have an item, start teaching them bringing anything back to you and dropping it is far more rewarding.  We don’t need competitive obedience standards, but we do want them to know coming to us with things is far more rewarding than disappearing behind the shed!

And the one thing I didn’t consider until I got a barrage of dachshunds wearing ears – fancy dress!

We all love a giggle and Easter does give the opportunity to play dress up.  It is important to remember that whilst we may think its cute, or funny the dogs may not.  IF you are going to dress them up, please ensure your dogs are quite comfortable with the handling and wearing novel items.  Over handling or the dogs having a negative experience can lead to them building a negative association with handling and could consequently lead to them biting you.  However, I’m not going to be a party pooper, if your dogs are quite happy acting the clown and posing then have fun and make memories together.  Whilst many know my face when I see a dog in clothes, and many take pleasure in sending me pictures of their dogs dressed up just to torment me, it can be a nice way to motivate you to practice handling. And, anything that helps practice handling in a positive way, in many different contexts is all part of helping them learn and adapt.


I’ll leave you with this series of dress ups…..can you spot the odd one out?



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